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How Rajesh Kasana went from selling tea to becoming India's best lightweight boxer

How Rajesh Kasana went from selling tea to becoming Indias best lightweight boxer

Srijanee D. Majumdar

Published: 15 April 2020 4:25 PM GMT

On the edge of the vast Thar desert resides the small country town of Bhiwani. Down a dusty lane in a half-built residential area, merely a few minutes away from India’s most high-profile male boxer Vijender Singh’s residence is what Rajesh Kumar Kasana calls home.

The former tea seller has fought for almost a decade and a half in the ring, with every punch thrown bringing him closer to what she calls ‘a normal life, away from misery’ and setting more inspired goals for others to follow. “10 rupaye ki chai aur thoda khane ka saaman bechta hun. Usi se gujara kar rha hun (I sell tea for Rs. 10 and some eatables to earn my livelihood),” Rajesh told in an interview earlier.

Rajesh Kasana | Source: Facebook Rajesh Kasana | Source: Facebook

Running a tea stall from 5 AM to 1 PM everyday, India’s first World Boxing Council (WBC) World Youth Champion has seen some of the harshest realities of life before finally finding an outlet for his passion when he threw himself into training his younger self.

By the time he was 17 and inspired by Vijender Singh, an Olympic bronze medallist and a fellow Bhiwani native, Rajesh knew where his future lay. “Mohalle waale practice pe jaate the, main soch ta tha yeh boxing mein aisa kya hain jo inko itna interest aata hain. Unko dekhte dekhte mere andar bhi wohi junoon aa basa. (I would see my neighbours head for boxing practice everyday. I often wondered what was so special about it! But after some time, I eventually fell in love with the sport)”, says India's best lightweight boxer, beaming a warm smile.

Also read: UP teen battles poverty to chase down Olympic dreams

Days before embarking on his unlikely path to becoming an elite athlete, a miserable fate took its turn on Rajesh as his father, a truck driver, succumbed to cancer. But the cloud of misfortune did not blow out yet. Another misfortune befell him few years later. Her sister was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. With limited finances at their disposal, his family was compelled to sell ancestral property in the village. Shortly afterwards, came the shattering news when his sister passed away.

Rajesh Kasana | Source: Facebook Rajesh Kasana | Source: Facebook

After a moment of uncomfortable silence, his face lights up when he speaks about fighting alongside big names of lightweight boxing in the international domain. Currently ranked 221st in the world according to WBC professional boxing rankings in his weight category, Rajesh decided that he had spent long enough fretting about his plight, and went out to try to make the impossible, possible. As the adage goes, ‘no matter how tall a wall is, never stop climbing!’

“I lost my father when I was in school. He was the backbone of our family. After his death, I left my studies and started driving. When things didn’t work out, I opened a stall after my friends gave me the suggestion,” he told.

In a year’s time, by then far too busy to waste any time feeling apologetic, Rajesh set about the creation of a new identity, for himself and for others to follow. He knew he was on the edge, perhaps he thought that a sports career would be difficult if not impossible to achieve, he proved to others and to himself that the only limits he faced were those he put upon himself.

Besides relishing upon a successful stint at his first professional bout at the South Asian Games in 2010, ‘Lukka’, as his neighbours fondly call him, has earned some handsome rewards with his pursuit for excellence in the world of professional boxing.

Rajesh Kasana | Source: Facebook Rajesh Kasana | Source: Facebook

Rajesh’s dream would have probably never seen the sunshine had it not been for the unfaltering support of his family. “My mother has been a pillar of strength for me. She has lived through all. I know that I have to keep moving ahead, despite struggles. I have never looked back since I began boxing. My mother tells me, ‘you only focus on your game, we will take care of other problems’. That keeps me motivated,” he explains calmly.

Rajesh’s journey started off as a puzzle with all its pieces jumbled and disarrayed. But he was destined to be much more than an inspirational story. One by one, he put the pieces together to reveal a masterpiece. His story, and his fight, goes on.

“Main aage chal ke khudko ek achcha boxer ke roop mein dekhna chahta hun. Iss profession ke andar mujhe bahut achcha naam karna hain. (I want to see myself as an accomplished boxer over the next few years. I want to make a name for myself in this profession),” he signs off.

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